March 14, 2014 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
Every year at BMCC, a traditional Irish feast celebrating St. Patrick’s Day raises money so that no student goes hungry, or has to drop out because he or she can’t afford a Metrocard.
This year’s celebration, held in Richard Harris Terrace, was more successful than ever. With proceeds slated for the BMCC Emergency Fund, the sixth annual Saint Patrick’s Day Lunch provided live dance performances and a delectable corned-beef and cabbage lunch prepared by MBJ Food Services.
The buffet-style banquet even included a dozen loaves of homemade Irish soda bread baked and donated by Bridy Diviney, mother-in-law of BMCC Administrative Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, James Boyle.
A worthy cause
Pat Splendore, Director of the BMCC Annual Fund in the Office of College Development, led the organizing committee and welcomed the audience.
“As some of you know, my maiden name is ‘Malloy’,” she said. “That’s how I got into organizing the St. Patrick’s Day Party back in 2008. This event is close to my heart for a lot of reasons, but first and foremost is that it meets a very immediate need–helping our students when they are suddenly facing a crisis. I’m delighted to see a full house this year, in support of this important cause.”
John Gallagher, Director of the BMCC Media Center, initiated the event six years ago with his friend and colleague Terrence Dunne, who is on staff in the College Computer Center.
“The purpose of the event has always been to support the BMCC Student Emergency Fund,” Gallagher said.
“For a lot of our students, a Metrocard is the difference between a good semester and dropping out. Our ticket price is only $25—but that will get a student to school for a week.”
Kim O’Donnell, secretary to the Computer Information Systems department, scoured the BMCC neighborhood for raffle donations from local businesses.
Gift certificates, books and other items were contributed by Belita Nail & Spa, Century 21, Duane Park Patisserie, The Mysterious Bookshop, Tribeca Pizzeria, Tribeca Cornerstone Grill, Tribeca Tap House and Woodrow’s.
Adding a touch of elegance to the raffle event, jewelry designer Eileen Pérez donated two of her hand-crafted necklaces distinguished by fire-polished Czech glass beads, and crocheted with silk thread.
Live dance performance
The event’s highlight was a lively program of jigs, reels, accordion playing, musical spoons and even “nonsense singing,” an old English and Irish tradition in which song lyrics are replaced with impromptu syllables.
Punctuating their beat with Irish dance clogs, dancers from the renown Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance regaled the audience with their energy and talent.
Dance troupe leader Niall O’Leary—an All-Ireland and World Champion—was joined by Stacie Sousa and Kristina Varade—the latter of whom is also a professor of Italian in the Modern Languages program at BMCC.
“I’ve been dancing since I was 14; I actually started pretty late,” says Professor Varade.
“I’m actually of both heritages, Italian and Irish, and I’ve never been able to pick one over the other. My professional life has led me to look at both Irish and Italian culture—I earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature with a specialization in Italian and Irish literature—and now, I’m learning Gaelic.”
Next year’s celebration
If you’d like to donate a raffle item for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon, please contact Kim O’Donnell at 212 220-1476.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Saint Patrick’s Day Committee included James Boyle, Kay Conway, Robert Cox, Jodie Culkin, Terrence Dunne, John Gallagher, Katherine Kavanagh, Kim O’Donnell and Pat Malloy Splendore